Anytime you win 34-6, it’s hard to be too negative. But it’s also rare for a team to allow so many yards on the ground in a blowout win. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense allowed 176 of them Monday afternoon, the biggest cause of concern from an otherwise dominant victory. Speaking with the media Tuesday, Mike Tomlin said letting the Texans run was by design.
“Some of it was just our deisre to minmize [Hopkins],” Tomlin said with a chuckle. “I don’t want to make more of a deal out of it than it was. I was completely comfortable once we got a multi-score lead to allow them to run if they so choose. We couldn’t allow [Hopkins] to do what we’ve seen him do.”
That plan worked. The Texans ran the ball all over the Steelers, averaging north of six yards per carry, but Hopkins’ impact was minimal. A sensational TD grab aside, he was quiet for most of the night and didn’t record his first catch until the end of the third quarter, at which point the game was nearly decided.
Still, it was surprising to see Tomlin so content with how easily the Texans ran through the Steelers front seven. It’s not as if the run defense has been sparkling all year long. It’s a unit that ranks 27th, allowing 4.4 yards per carry and in the league’s bottom third with 13 rushing touchdowns allowed.
While Pittsburgh may have been letting Houston some more breathing room to pound the rock, their rushing offense had been terrible all season long. Lamar Miller had been plodding along but averaged 5.5 yards per carry Monday while Alfred Blue had one of the best performances of his career.
Tomlin chalked it all up to gameplan.
“We realize there could’ve been some collateral damage in the run game.”
The Browns will come in with one of football’s most effective rushing attacks. They are averaging 4.5 per carry but game circumstance hasn’t let them keep the run game going. They’ve only run the ball 357 times, 27th in the league. Cleveland ran for just 57 yards in the regular season opener. Hopefully the Steelers get a similar result this time around.